Honeymooning at Shangri La’s Villingili Resort, The Maldives | UK WEDDING BLOG

facebook-profile-picture By Rebecca

Oh Shangri La Maldives, how do I even begin describing this paradise? This island was without a doubt the best honeymoon destination we have ever been to. It just seemed to be everything we wanted yet so much more. It’s like Shangri La took the holiday dreams right out of our head, from the bikes to cycle around the island to the sparkling sea that will take your breath away, to the incredible sunset dinners on the beach, and made it a reality. Villingili is one of the largest islands in the Maldives which you may find unusual as most others are tiny tiny islands you can walk around in about five minutes but the sense of space at this one actually made it all the better. And it’s a great option for those who are worried about going stir crazy on a smaller island for a week/fortnight which I hear from so many couples {mostly their husbands to be who can’t stand the thought of sitting still}. I can’t wait to share more below with you, if you’ve come for honeymoon inspiration then it really doesn’t get much better than this.

I’m not sure if you’re aware of the Shangri La luxury hotel chain. Shangri La is a famous fictional term made up by the author James Hilton to describe a remote or imaginary utopia where life approaches perfection. The Shangri La Maldives resort personifies this and you’ll find that no thought or expense has been spared to make this castaway island full of romance.

On arrival at Male airport you’ll be greeted by a Shangri La board and a smiling representative who will whisk you to an exclusive lounge, taking your passports to take care of the next check in for you leaving you to freshen up and have some food. The next flight is an hour long before an eight minute speedboat across to the island. A bit of a long slog but trust me, you’ll be so glad you made the journey and your travel efforts will be greatly rewarded. Shangri La Villingili is on the furthest south atoll in the Maldives and you’ll fly over the equator and cross another time zone to get there, island time is an hour ahead of Male which means longer days and a later sunset. {Side note if you’re not staying at any other resorts near make it would make more sense to fly to Colombo in Sri Lanka and connect from there making a shorter journey overall}.

Sailing into the island you’re greeted with that emerald sea and you’ll just know that you’ve made the right choice. Pulling up at the dock will be smiling staff {and I really can’t stress enough just how incredible and lovely all the staff are, from the grounds keepers to the villa hosts, everybody is just so amazing and cannot do more for you} with fresh coconuts and flowers waiting to greet you. You’ll be whisked in a golf cart to your villa {this resort is a villa only resort} to give you an orientation and check in at your villa so there’s no waiting around. Everything is swift here, pre-planned to maximise your luxury and enjoyment from the very beginning.

Accessed by a wooden jetty, we stayed in an over-water villa, which kind of feels like a must do when you’re coming to the Maldives. Sure, the Caribbean or the rest of the Indian Ocean has nice beaches but where else has stilted thatched villas with steps down into *that* sea? I defy you not to take a hundred photos of this view..

The water villas were huge, such a luxury to have so much space both inside and out. I loved the outdoor shower where you could see fish swimming whilst washing your hair. And the villas have been designed with high ceilings meaning you can see the stars before you go to bed and on waking up, after pressing a button by your bedside the blinds will lift automatically and you’ll be blinded by that sparkly sea waiting for you. They offer complete privacy and give you an uninterrupted view.

His ‘n’ hers sinks!

It’s always the little extras that help make a place truly special. Here you’re left things like after-sun and mosquito repellant and greeted with champagne, local bananas and treats from the pastry chefs.

We spent most of our time on the outdoor deck laying in the hammock over the ocean or on the comfiest day-bed daydreaming. I mean, just look at the view.

If you’d prefer to sleep on more solid ground, there are also pool villas, beach villas and even tree house villas which all come with private plunge pools surrounded by palm trees just a stones throw from the sea. A lot of guests choose to do a few nights with a beach villa and then a few nights in a water villa for a change of scene.

Being on an island, the sound of the waves is never far away wherever you are. {And if you really want to splurge then take a look at the insane Villa Muthee and Villa Laalu for the complete wow factor.} With every villa you’ll be assigned a personal villa host who will look after you during your stay and bring you fresh fruit each day etc, we used ours mainly to make restaurant reservations for us.

The Maldivian islands are the perfect place to flip and flop after all the wedding stress, excitement and adrenaline. So if you want to do nothing but relax then you can either stay around your villa or there’s an infinity pool with private cabanas set just behind the beach and a beach so dreamy that you’ll have to pinch yourself.

But equally, if after a few days you feel like adventuring then Shangri La Maldives has tonnes of fun options to keep you fulfilled. You’ve got the only golf course in The Maldives here, beautifully manicured and with sea views the whole way. We cycled around it on our daily loop of the island.

There are daily snorkel trips where we met this cool guy along with some of the best dive sites across the Maldives and countless water sports to try out.

From a snorkelling turtle quest to dolphin watching before the sunset, we came away with memories to last a lifetime.

In your villa will be a sheet with activities and classes on if you feel like going along, we went to a coconut talk where we watched a man very impressively climb up a palm tree with his feet tied together and cut down a fresh bunch but we could have also tried yoga or circuit training {if we weren’t feeling so lazy!} or taken a guided nature trail. We chose to mainly explore the island for ourselves, taking the bikes out whenever we felt like it. Each part of the island was so varied and diverse, I feel like it’s the kind of place you could cycle around twenty times and see something different on every journey. So much more than your typical beach scene.

One memorable afternoon was spent at the Chi spa where we had a traditional Maldivian couples massage complete with sea shells placed over our ears for some of it and we were even chanted to. It was so deeply relaxing that I could have slept there all afternoon. Finding the spa on the island was like stumbling across a temple village – both literally and metaphorically – with it’s gold domed roof and the scent of incense burning.

I can’t believe I’ve got this far without talking about the food. Because if you’re anything like me then this will be an important deciding factor for booking your honeymoon. And let me tell you this, the food would be worth going for alone {no joke, Ben and I were booking our return trip during the seafood BBQ buffet, it is that good}. We were on half board basis, I don’t think it’s worth going full board – with the huge buffet at breakfast and the heat in the middle of the day you won’t want to pay for lunch every day. The breakfasts were amazing, we’d walk along the beach every morning and choose a table on the sand before stuffing ourselves silly with everything you could ever imagine {and more!} on offer. You’d be served tea, coffee and fresh croissants and then you can go and visit the fruit chef, the waffle chef and the omelette man. Breakfasts at home will never be the same again.

Dinners were equally as spectacular, coupled with the best sunsets. There are three restaurants to choose from all with tables on the beach with different vibes and all so beautifully designed inside too. We sat outside for dinner every night, it feels like a holiday rule and the temperature never drops below 28 degrees!

We loved all three restaurants, Dr Ali’s for Middle Eastern and Asian food, Javuu for relaxed seafood, salads and risottos on the main beach and Fashala for fine dining on the edge of a sand bank.

We cycled to dinner and back every evening, our villa was furthest from Fashala but cycling back under the palms and stars, so happy and in love with the island is something I’ll remember forever. If private dining is more your thing, we saw some pretty set ups on the beach every evening. Anything is possible here, if you want dinner on a yacht then it can be arranged.

I sound like I’m being ridiculously gushing about this whole trip. I always promise to be 100% honest and would never recommend anywhere I wouldn’t recommend to my friends, family or you guys. But we travel a lot and hand on heart Shangri La Villingili just had something that set it apart and I’ve been telling everyone that they have to visit.

That being said, I will outline a few things that you should note. And a few thing you can’t miss if you do stay;

  • Children. This island is very family friendly. Which is something to consider as honeymooners. But whilst we saw some children at breakfast and dinner, it didn’t take away from the romance of the place and you’re always seated far enough away. In the day even though the island was almost at full capacity it felt like we had it to ourselves half the time because there are so many different areas and being an all villa island meant that everybody has their own space.
  • The cost of drinks, alcoholic drinks in particular, are very inflated wherever you visit in The Maldives. Being an island, and a strict Muslim country there are heavy import duties that the hotels have to pass on to guests. Shangri La Maldives have recently started an all inclusive rate which is something you could look into if you don’t want to worry about the cost whilst away. Or budget higher drinks prices into your trip before you book. There are three gorgeous bars to sit at and most offer happy hour half price drinks before sunset.
  • If you don’t want to go on full board, or all inclusive, and I personally think that half board {breakfast and dinner} is the best option, then take some snacks with you. We took some crackers and crisps that stopped us having to spend lots on room service or snacks when hunger crept in late afternoon.
  • Packing wise you won’t need all that much, just a lot of swimwear, cover ups and some pretty evening outfits. We hardly wore shoes, in the Maldives there’s a saying called ‘no shoes, no news’ but for cycling we wore the sandals left in our room. Evenings aren’t especially smart but men should wear shirts and no baseball caps.
  • Take a good camera and a lot of memory space. This place is so photogenic and Instagrammable. We used the Olympus Tough TG4 for all the underwater shots and the Olympus Pen EPL7 for everything else.
  • Don’t miss the Saturday night BBQ on the beach. All the lobster, seafood and meat you could ever wish for cooked to order. Plus a dessert table of dreams.
  • Take a complimentary honeymoon photo shoot. The photographers are very good and will either guide you or you can guide them. You can have them in any location at any time. Before sunset is especially popular.
  • Climb Mount Villingili on the golf course, the highest natural elevation in The Maldives and it’s a whopping 5 metres above sea level! – the world’s smallest mountain ha.
  • You can visit The Maldives year round but the driest season is from December to April although prices are at a peak then too. August tends to be the worst for rain. The shoulder seasons in May-July and September-December are good options too when rates come down although expect a little more unsettled weather.
  • I’d recommend booking this through a travel agent who can arrange the internal flights. As I said previously, if you’re not looking to visit any islands near Male then the best way would be to fly to Colombo in Sri Lanka to make the journey shorter. Make sure you tell agents it’s your honeymoon as there are often extras thrown in when booking to make your trip more special.

 

You can see more in the vlog below;

and as always if you have any questions please feel free to get in touch. We’re in the middle of putting together a guide on where to start on booking a Maldivian honeymoon which has been requested by a few of you.

Room rates at Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa are from US$645.41 (approx. £527) per night. This is based on double occupancy and includes all taxes and fees. To book, please visit www.shangri-la.com/male/villingiliresort, or call 0800 028 3337.  

R <3 xx

{I was a guest of Shangri La Maldives but as always all opinions are 100% my own. We would never promote anywhere that we didn’t truly love. And we honestly loved this place SO much. We planned a return trip before we even left!}